After starting the Stanley Cup playoffs with six straight victories, Anaheim succumbed for the first time Tuesday night in a dramatic 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames.
The Ducks were 20 seconds away from making it seven wins in a row and taking a commanding 3-0 series lead when Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau scored the tying goal with the goalie pulled. Mikael Backlund put away the winner 4:24 into overtime.
Losing a game in which it led after two periods does not happen very often for the Pacific Division champions. Anaheim was 30-0-2 in that scenario during the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs up until Tuesday.
However, they found a worthy adversary in the resilient Flames, who won for the third time this post-season when trailing after two periods, a feat they pulled off 10 times during the regular season.
"They're a good team. They've been making comebacks all year," said Anaheim winger Matt Beleskey, who scored his third goal of the post-season. "You're not going to go 16-0 in the playoffs. It's one loss, regroup, we've got two days off here, hard days of practice and away we go."
The Ducks headed for the mountains after the game. They will spend the next couple days practising in Banff, Alta., a resort town 90 minutes west of Calgary.
"We're going to go and just get away and have two good days of practice," said the Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.
In Game 4 on Friday night, Anaheim will need to do what the Vancouver Canucks were unable to do in round one — win at the Saddledome. Calgary is a perfect 4-0 in the post-season in front of the raucous 'C of Red'.
"We've gotta go play our game, execute better, get better, because they're going to be better," said Getzlaf.
The games have gotten progressively closer as the series has gone on.
After blowing out the Flames 6-1 in the opener. Anaheim needed two third period goals to dispose of Calgary 3-0 in Game 2.
Game 3 was Calgary's best yet.
"We've just got to refocus until Friday. We have two good days of practice now, work on some things to do better and I'm sure we'll be better on Friday," said Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen, who gave up four goals on 21 shots.
The Flames had managed only nine shots in the first 40 minutes before peppering Andersen with 11 in the third period.
"It was tough being so long between the shots. That's kind of tough. This was probably one of the hardest games I've played this post-season," Andersen said. "But you have to be ready for those opportunities.
"I kept trying to focus on the next shot and I thought did a great job in the third keeping us in it for that long but it wasn't enough. We didn't get the bounce we needed there."
Discipline will be another area that Anaheim will need to address, according to coach Bruce Boudreau.
Gaudreau's tying goal came on the Flames sixth power play of the game and third in the final 20 minutes. Backlund's goal came during a delayed penalty.
"We got to play better. We can't take six, what would have been seven penalties and expect to win games. Against any team," Boudreau said. "We'll go back and regroup. We didn't play very good. That's the biggest thing. "
Game 5 will be back at Honda Center On Sunday, where the Flames haven't been victorious since winning a playoff game there on April 25, 2006.
"We had three solid chances to end it in overtime and they took advantage late. That's the way it is," said Beleskey. "But we're still up 2-1. Win one more game here and head home and look to close it out."